Never Underestimate the Power of a Concussion
Recently, 25-year old X Games athlete, Caleb Moore, performed a flip that went wrong, as he clipped the top of the jump and went over the handlebars of his snowmobile. Moore was able to walk off the course, with help, and go to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with concussion. Unfortunately, however, due to complications, he passed away shortly thereafter.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Caleb Moore, who lived life passionately, and served as an inspiration to everyone involved in the extreme and action sports community. In calling attention to this tragic accident, it is my hope—as a consumer safety advocate and a closed-head trauma and traumatic brain injury attorney—to increase awareness of the seriousness of intracranial injury.
While we all recognize that extreme sporting events are dangerous, we are apt to underestimate the most common athletic injury of all: concussion. Because athletes like Caleb Moore—and countless football, soccer, and hockey players—are able to get up and walk away, they are often presumed to be fine, and are encouraged by well-meaning coaches and parents to return to play before they are ready. More often than not, they end up sustaining many more head traumas during the course of their athletic careers, causing cumulative brain injury. For, even if the first injury is a mild one, every successive bang to the head increases the level of injury to the brain. According to news sources, it is estimated that Caleb Moore had sustained ten previous concussions prior to his fatal accident.
Approximately half a million sports-related concussions occur each year in the United States. At this moment, litigation is pending for close to 4,000 football players with head injuries—now the top trauma-related cause of death among athletes. Fortunately, however, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) among athletes have been widely researched in recent years, thereby paving the way for greater public awareness and understanding.
Of course, you don’t have to be an athlete to sustain a concussion—or multiple concussions, for that matter. Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, falls, or blows to the head can cause the same damage as snowmobile accidents or dangerous tackles.
Traumatic brain injuries and closed head traumas—aptly called “invisible injuries— are a serious health problem in the United States. Even a minor concussion can cause significant and sustained neurological and cognitive impairment, and can diminish one’s ability to process information at normal speeds. All too frequently, head trauma results in memory impairment, diminished spatial perception, and/or long-lasting emotional, mental, and behavioral changes.
The impact of closed-head injury and brain trauma on a family is devastating. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury to the head and skull, it is imperative that you seek an independent medical examination by a qualified health professional. TBI has the potential to kill--or to cause catastrophic injuries that require life-long care, which can greatly impact the victim’s family members, both emotionally and financially.
Jeffrey Reiff is a lawyer and contributing member of the National Brain Injury Trial Lawyers Association. He has represented closed head trauma and traumatic brain injury victims since 1979, and has written numerous articles on this subject. He has consistently been named one of the Top Attorneys in Pennsylvania by Super Lawyers, and has been recognized by National Trial Lawyers as a member of the Top100 Trial Lawyers. He has also been nominated as one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Pennsylvania.